Last week, I wrote about the so-called “Mummy Wars”. It was an exciting post for me, because it generated a lot of intelligent discussion. One of the main themes that emerged from the comments was the idea of a “Mummy Community”. Mothers are happy to talk amongst each other about parenting issues – they like receiving feedback and ideas from other mums. If ideas are debated, they tend to be done in a gentle, amicable fashion over a cup of tea. Mums particularly need the support from other mums. The general consensus in the comments was that Mummy Wars is a media fiction, or if it does exist, it lives in forums and Facebook communities, where passions soar, but words are not necessarily kindly said. As one woman commented, “If you’re looking for a supportive community, you won’t find it amongst the mothers who have turned the forum into their own personal sandbox.”
So, instead of Mummy Wars, let’s focus on the Mummy Community. Far more constructive.
It seems, by talking to other mums and hearing from mums through my blog, that one of the most crucial ingredients for nourishing little hearts is to be supported and surrounded by other mums. Like a plant needs water, us mums need our support. Someone to talk nappies with (and possibly even exchange poo stories). Someone who understands what a sleepless night is like. We need someone who knows about prams, and someone who knows about slings. We need someone to sympathise with us, and give us a big, warm, bosomy hug. Us mums are the world’s biggest networkers – spreading our tendrils until we reach something we need. We hold it, and pull it in. We pull in those who support us.
My mother community began on a macadamia farm in northern NSW. It was, at the time, the home of the Natural Birth Education and Resource Centre. We sat on the verandah of the old worker’s cottage, sipping tea and sharing our woes and our desires. Some of us travelled for over an hour to be there each week. It was a safe place to pull out our boobs to breastfeed, to ask someone for a cup of tea or to bop up and down while our baby slept in the sling. Our mother’s group grew to include new “members” over the last two years. Although we don’t all meet up regularly, we have splintered into fractions, and occasionally use our “main email list” to communicate with everyone in the group.
This week on Mumgo, I wrote about the need for a village – that is, the support from those around us to raise our children. Traditionally, the village was the mum, grandma, aunts, sisters, cousins, nieces and neighbours. They carried our babies in slings and sometimes breastfed them. Now, some of us live a million light years away from our relatives; expats in foreign lands. Others have family on the other side of the country. Perhaps, if you are lucky, you know who your neighbours are. But chances are, all you will know about them is that they drive a blue Suburu Forester, and they mow weekly. This is why, in our modern day world, the Mother-hood has become increasingly important. We need the hood of mummies to survive.
The Motherhood is on the Internet. There are many many Facebook communities and blogs (you may like to suggest some of your favourites below). You can join a group, and ask any question you like at any time of the day or night and you are guaranteed an immediate response. There are hubs for working mums, stay-at-home mums (SAHM), mums who baby-wear, mums who don’t smack children, mums who bake in groups…You just have to find the hubs that work for you and speak your language. (Just avoid nasty sandboxes).
Hopefully, the Motherhood is also in your physical village, or at least a phone call away. Some of my hood live in Melbourne, and one mother is next door. When I have a need, I send out a tendril, and someone is always at the receiving end. Wherever, whoever.
I hope you have a Motherhood, and if you don’t, contact me or leave a comment below, and I am sure between all of us mums we can find you what you need.
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To nourish little hearts, we need a village. We need a Motherhood.